tv Inside Story Al Jazeera September 3, 2015 5:30am-6:01am EDT
situation, many smaller ones remain at the mercy of the weather if you want to keep up to date with the stories, head over to the website at aljazeera.com. >> that's aljazeera.com. >> [ ♪ music ] the voting rights act was meant to push back on decades of systematic voter exclusion in big chunks of the country, it meant that the justice department would look over many state shoulders when they made laws. now the acts supporters worry that it's weakened or in retreat as america marked the 50th vote. it's "inside story".
welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. 95 years ago today, tennessee ratified the 19th amendment to the u.s. constitution. clearing the way for women to vote. it would be half a century before a similar guarantee was given to african-americans. for decades, some states barred entry to the ballot box. intimidation, threats, burdens, poll taxes, tricky application procedures were on the benign end. the threat of sudden violence, murder was at the other end of the scale. now, 50 years later, plenty of americans are prepared to let the guarantees of the voting right acts from the one it was
in 1995. randall pinkston has more. >> this act flows from a clear and simple wrong. it's only purpose is to right that wrong. when president lyndon johnson signed the 1965 voting rights abbing. he called it a monumental law. johnson pushed the bill through congress. the struggle was proseeded by another battle. this was known as bloody sunday, it outraged the nation. >> reporter: a few weeks after bloody sunday, marchers sent off again. on the front line of the marches that day is a man who organised the protest. the county voters league president. reverent reece, 85 years old was the person that invited
dr martin luther king junior for the successful second march. later that year he was at the capital signing the rights acts. what did youening? >> i thought it was so good, after having gone flow all the difficulties we have gone through, and now we had a chance to be considered as first class citizens. >> reporter: for 50 years the voting rights act helped to transform the landscape. >> president obama is not president of the united states if it were not the act. >> reporter: they are worried because of a 2013 supreme court decision. because as a holder, the original act requires several states to get permission, pre clearance before making changes to voting laws. the supreme court decision
eliminates that requirement. immediately after that happened, after the supreme court decision, states like carolina, like texas and chargia, other states started to enact provisions that made it more difficult for african-americans, for members of the racial minority to vote. >> the non-part stan ren asons counts 21 states with restricted voting laws, such as eduesing voting or requiring photo laws and preserve the vote. >> all the studies show that poor people, people of colour vote early, because they can take time off work. they can vote when it's convenient for them. >> susan watson oft alabama a.c.l.u. predict a turn out.
what then is your take on this argument that there is fraud in i there is no fraud. >> in north carolina, the n. a.a. cp is challenging that voter restriction. doing that, hope was settled half a century ago joining me to begin the look at the voting rights act is michael font roy, an associate professor of political science at howard after the voting rights act was passed. did it work through the rest of the '60s, into the '70s, into the '80s. >> did it achieve what it accomplished. >> there were only 70, 7-0 african-american elected officials throughout the state
with a decade of that, that number grown 20 fold, and across the country we have more than entire country. if you count it in terms of numerical change, there's no question that it is positively impacting the nation, and black voter participation in particular. if we look at the deliberations leading to its drafting, to its signing, looking at the back room jockey, arm twisting. did people imagine that this was going to have to stay in place for a long, long time to come. >> one of the really big parts of the voting rights act, is a linchpin of the whole law. it was initially considered temporary, as the voting rights act is renewed, so is the division. i think it was considered
something that would not be on the books. as we see now, as we see rush of changes put in place, to shift the way in which people can register or vote early, it's clear that the fight to maintain continues. >> states bridled under the restrictions of the voting rights act. it is clear they weren't happy, showing work in drafting congressional districts. to the justice department. how long have they been gunning for this law? >> i would say almost from the beginning. the voting rights act was passed. there was litigation around it to see if it was constitutional. to this point. there has been more than half a million preclearance submissions made to the justice department or the federal court of appeals here in d.c.
a number. anyone is going to understand that it's a problem. to submit the requests. whatever. all the changes have to be put forth. some make the states. there's no question about it. gunning for the changes for years and years and years, act. they found in section four, a part they could get at, and we saw the result. >> in that supreme court decision, what was at the core of the majorities reasoning. did they decide in effect that it's not 1965 any more. >> i think that's largely it. there's a 2-part test to determine whether section 4 was still necessary. one, whether or not a state would be covered by section 5, through a section 4 test. one, did it
have a sub 50% registration rate in 1965, and, two, did they engage in taxes, those things, and if they did. they were covered by the proiverings. we are 50 years on. those that argued against section 5 and section 4 said this is an outdated test that needs to go away. >> we had one midterm election cycle since the supreme court decision. some predicted the worst in the state that were covered under the original law. >> when you look at the 2014 elections, the first ones run upped the less restricted provisions. what happens? >> well, turn out in some respects increases. i think it's too early to say it's okay, we don't have to worry about it. a number of laws past were stayed until after 2014, because
they needed time to sort it out and get the mechanism in place to make the changes. i think 2016/2018 - they'll have more time to see the extent to which the changes were going to impact the electorate. there has been 120 laws submitted. some have been passed, some in debates, that change various things like voter registration drive, early voting and the like. we don't yet know the extent to which the changes will or will not impact voting. >> very almost out of time. is the political landscape one that would accept a redrafting, a return to the 1965 restrictions? >> i think if you look at the way the changes have been rushed almost immediately after the passage, of the decision, i think it's possible that you
could see some changes made that are reminiscent of pre-1965. >> thank you so. >> my pleasure. >> professor, teaching signs, how section 5 could be read in the oxford handbook of southern politics. there's a national election in 15 months, we'll choose a third of the senate, 45 members, and a new president. hoy will the contours of the voting rights act and individual >> at one time i felt that selling cocaine was my purpose. >> as the amount of drugs grew, guns came in. >> the murder rate was sky high. >> this guy was the biggest in l.a. >> i was goin' through a million dollars worth of drugs every day - i liked it. it's hard to believe that a friend would set you up. people don't get federal life sentences...
>> we're here to fully get into the nuances of everything that's going on, not just in this country, but around the world. getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> ali velshi on target weeknights 10:30p et welcome back to "inside story", i'm ray suarez. in the continued argument over voting, who gets the vote and how regularly. we are watching the big battle of two american tendencies. one says voting is a precious right that we should hold the door open to polling places, allowing the largest number of eligible voters through the doors. if in the process a few people
who shouldn't vote get through, it may be many legitimate votes as we can to cast the ballot. at the other end of the war the proposition begins the same way, the right to vote is precious and important we must make sure no one but eligible voters join the process. if we complicate the effort to vote tore turn away some, we can live with that if we protect the ballot for the many. the voting rights act that tore down the rotten -- rotten jim crow is not right for some. joining me is a couple of guest
guests. we had a short amount of time, as i mentioned with professor font roy since the supreme court decision. what has flowed out of that pretty big change in the voting. >> you have to understand it's not a proposition, it's not do we have the voting rights act. do we protect the right to vote or not. what the supreme court said to this extraordinary provision, section 5, requiring federal oversight of the moral bankrupt. that is no longer justified or constitutional. i agree in 1965, we have the key parts of the voting rights act. section 2, prevents pursuing government or private parties, pursuing stop measures. that is the provision that was used against the voter
i.d. law, or section there. if you have too many violations, a court can reinstate five. it's important, and successful. we have you continue to use the tools. it's been submitted that the law things. >> well, it's funny that mr shapiro would mention texas, before the decision came down, texas passed a stringent voter i.d. law that had an impact. under section five of the voter i.d. law, it was blocked. after the county game down. the voter i.d. law went into effect. and we had to have two years of the lit quakes, including a 2014
midterm election in which the discriminatory voter i.d. law was in place, and recently the court of appeals upheld a finding that texas i.d. law violated the act. because section 5 was gone, we had to have the discriminatory measures in place for midterm elections, and that's the landscape we are facing. >> let's stay in texas. when results of 2010 sensis came out, there was a large increase in the population. >> the lion's share of the increase came from the increase in the side of the community in texas. people watching the things, it's a remapped crowd. they said how many seats. how many will be places where it's possible for latino to take the elections. they were shocked after latino
had majorities, supermajorities in them. would that have been possible before preclearance went away? >> preclearance would have prevented this long process. coming through now. of correcting discriminatory law making in texas, as a perfect example. in fact, that restricting plan was - failed preclearance, and was frozen in place when there was still preclearance, and that decision was reversed. >> there is a section 2 suit that was filed at the same time. it's not that you or the preclearance there, you can have the lawsuits. the justice department has not filed a slew of losses. in fact, leaving aside voter
i.d., which the supreme court says if you administrate you don't put in the whole ad. on replanted from the ruling, where the court found no intent. i am sure they'll figure it out. section two does the work, if you can't prove that section two is doing the work. further buttresses the argument of the way the supreme court ruled to dismantle section five. >> there is a tool to answer back, to change that law. quickly, before we go. >> the problem is you can't re do an election. since the resurfacing plans, we had to put something in place penting further litigation, we had elections that have been affected by a decision of the restricting plan, and we can't go back and fix it after the break we are going to keep the conversation going. next - whether new state regulations and supreme court decisions change the shape, size
in the last two presidential elections, activists took advantage of expanded voting hours and days, and registration to get large number of first time and occasional voters to the polls. in the intervening years, some cut back, and raised i.d. how has the reduced preclearance under the voting rights act, how have they merged to create a new playing field for activists on all sides of the debate. >> aaron hustings, eli shapiro, and shaun young is with us. what will we see in 2016. what are the differences in these laws going to make a
change at the margins, or trike at the heart of some efforts to get out to vote. >> well, we have seen that in states where they have targeted early voting opportunities for illumination, in those states they rely on early voting opportunities, as well as other opportunities, from lower income background. people working several jobs. they can't easily take time off tuesday to take the vote. we'll see a discriminatory states. >> if i come back to texas. many things come back to texas in this world. we had research come out that showed that voter i.d. law seems to have had a chilling impact on voter turn out. in 23,
covering a sloth of west texas, and flipped back and forth between the representatives, and the past several election resist. the way that it had a chilling impact was not that people had the i.d. to vote. but they knew it would be harder to vote. and more could be expected they would not meet the standards. if they had the idea. it should have been harder, that's the point. in places like georgia and tennessee, after voter i.d. laws get into effect. it doesn't prevent voting for fraud. there's more going on. what it is, it's become a partisan fight. most of the american people support it. it enhances voter confidence. i don't feel strongly of that, we need voter i.d. a majority of blacks.
>> sure. first of all, there's no constitutional right. early voting, expanded voting, there's no correlation between which states or parties control them or have the features. for example, in new york, a very blue controlled state. it does not have voting. others states that are red have easier registration requirements, for whatever reason. similarly, early voting does not correlate to who comes out to the polls. in some faces, rural, suburban, whatever it is, sometimes it's more lower class, upper class, they have more flexibility. they can dell different stories, it's an administrator. that's a problem, that needs to be gotten rid of. tinkering with the hours, who votes early, when you register, as long as you are not burdening someone's ability. there's no problem.
isn't a lot of this driven by turn out. when president obama's tribute to the voting rights act. he said wait. not enough people turn out to vote period. every american certainly has not only rights, but an obligation. and voting is a basic civic duty. the problem is we are seeing government actors going out of their way to make it unnecessary, making it harder for people to exercise the civic duty. the real question is what kind of democracy will we live in. do we want to live in a democracy, that's the relevant question here. >> thank you to everybody for joining us. ellia, shaun young, and aaron hustings of the educational fund. the national association. and appointed officials.
before we leave you, a word about a fallen civil rights leader. when julian bond was nominated as vice president at the n.a.a.c.p. the voting rights act was three years old. bond, a young man in a hurry was a leader of the pivotal student nonviolent committee, and a georgia state representative while still in their 20s.
and just to remind you what a different state america was. bond would sue for the right to take his seat after the georgia house barred him being sworn. he was a founder and early leader in the southern poverty law center. he was quick wide. shark. making him a tof opponent. the man who had seen it all from freedom rides, sits-ins, did not think north america solved its racial problems or that the legacies of slavery that gave rise to the burning rights acts were over and done. bond believed the act was meant to day. julian
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